Affairs of the Wooden Plate

The festive season is rapidly approaching and it is time to prepare yourself for a well-deserved rest before making a fresh start in the New Year. It is around this time of the year one thinks about relationships and the joys of life.

We have a very special relationship with our simple wooden plates which we have treasured for many years but sometimes take for granted and fall out of love with. The love affair began 40 years ago when Ernst arrived in Germany and was introduced to his first "vessperbrett" as the Schwaebian folk of Germany know them. As young student from South Africa working the vineyards in his spare time to earn the extras, it was love at first sight – breakfast was cold meats and cheeses and freshly baked bread served from a round wooden plate at 9:00 am in the morning – all washed down with a glass of wine. Lunch and early-supper to follow served from the same plate. The inter-personal student relationship was close and comforting and they spent morning, noon and night together. Communication was intense and open – they understood each other's joys and sorrows and a relationship was born in blood, sweat and tears.

Gwenda visited four years later as a newly graduated and excited to be with her high school sweetheart. She was introduced to Ernst's closest companion – the wooden plate ... the circle of friends grew.

Moving to South Africa seemed to be no problem. As the family grew and friends became regulars in the Gouws home, we needed more wooden plates which were only be available in Germany around that time. Wine business trips to Germany became shopping excursions too.

Meanwhile life got busy and the dishwasher interfering sent the relationship plummeting. Familiarity turned to indifference. White became the fashion. We forgot about the comfort and warmth of natural wood – the relationship seemed doomed.

Until recently, when old friends became regulars at the dinner table once more. The grandchildren forced us to look at our beloved friends in a different way and we rediscovered the warmth and friendship built over 40 odd years. A few took some serious battering through the years, but are even more charming in their old age. Sometimes it is just for somebody else to tell you how precious familiar things are.

Like the revival of the wooden plates, the new modern circular design of the Ernst Gouws & Co label proved to be a great success and many old friends rediscovered our wines this year.

The cooperation between us, parents and the younger generation is fruitful and rewarding. Ezanne and Ernst Junior's enthusiasm and initiatives open new doors daily and although we battle many times to keep track with the latest technologies of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, their input and knowledge is invaluable. However, the style of our wines remains typical of what Ernst is known for and gained reputation over many years – lots of fruit with a long finish – easy to enjoy with food or just as is, on its own.

We thank each and every one for keeping contact and being part of our lives especially those who joined the circle of friends recently.

 May you all experience the joy and comfort of true friendship! Cheers to life!